If the Olympics teach us anything, it’s that people care a lot more about sports during the summer than they do during the winter (unless you are Soviet or Canadian). Summer is upon us, and the hot, frothy atmosphere feels like the exhaust from the Blues Traveler’s harmonica. This, naturally, makes us want to do physical activities that will raise our body temperatures even higher. If you’re like me, you see yourself as the heroic protagonist of your very own sports movie, powering through a quick-cut montage, growing as both an athlete and a human being. And if you’re like me, your sports movie needs a soundtrack, because what, you’re going to montage to whatever ambient sounds are just being "ambient" around you? No way. You need to set the mood to do sports, but you’re tired of the old montage standards from Karate Kid and Bloodsport and Rocky. To defeat your own personal Ivan Drago, you’ll need the sound of a New Era of montage. Here’s what’s been helping me punch my goals in the face.
Play Badminton to Torche
You’ll probably be attending plenty of backyard barbecues this summer, and it’s nearly certain that, sooner or later, someone will force you to play the inbred scion of tennis and ping-pong. Nobody really wants to play badminton, because it’s, like, dumb. And since lawn darts—the radly hardcore game of making daggers rain from the sky—are illegal now, you’ll have to take the lemons life has handed you and make hand grenades by making badminton hardcore...with metal. First, put on "Harmonicraft" by Torche as loud as your host’s portable iPod speakers will allow. Then, strip naked and let out a guttural cry in a dead language (I find Crimean Gothic works best). Then serve. Once you’ve destroyed your opponents (as well as social norms), tear down the net and eat it as Torche’s guitars turn the backyard grass to ash. Hopefully, by then, the hamburgers will also be ready.
Play Softball to Kishi Bashi
Hey did you notice how I got through that whole badminton bit without any jokes about shuttlecocks? Anyway, softball doesn’t really matter, per se. It doesn’t. But if you’re on an intramural or corporate team, there might be one or two people who actually “Came to PLAY,” as opposed to “Came to drink canned beer and spank the palm of my ball glove while shouting nonsense at the batter.” The playful, bouncing arrangements of Kishi Bashi will remind the more serious players that everyone else is just there to have fun. Just let them play whatever position that they insist on playing, and if they brought their own aluminum bat, don’t try to use it. Because that’s THEIR bat.
Play Basketball to Sigur Rós
It’s a well-known fact that if you speed up Dicky V’s voice and then divide it by π, it sounds just like Jonsí of the Icelandic ethereal rock troupe Sigur Rós. Notice how time just seems to stand still as the ball rolls off your fingertips, floating through the air the way the incomprehensible lyrics of Hvarf/Heim float out of Jonsí’s mouth, like doves being born, in Jonsí’s mouth. As the ball kisses the glass after what seems like years from the moment you released it, it spirals through the hoop in a tempest of violins and narwhals. A single piano note punctuates a single tear running down your cheek as your fade-away shot comes to a close. You don’t speak Icelandic, but you know what it means. “Fist-pump earned.”
Ride Bikes to Dan Sartain
Before you do anything, tuck your pants way, way down into your socks. Okay, mount your bicycle. Now mount your ears with headphones that are playing Dan Sartain’s newest throwback trope Too Tough To Live. Then start peddling and going “Vroooooooom!” with your mouth. Soon, it’ll feel like you’re on a real motorcycle and not an old Peugeot fixie you got off Craigslist.
Skateboard to Poliça
As a skater, your knee-jerk reaction is probably “Fuck the Poliça!” Now sure, the obvious choice for your skate soundtrack this summer would be the awesomely bone-crunching new OFF! record, but you’re a skater—defy conventions! Why not give the crooning guitars and siren-esque vocals on Give Me The Ghost a try? Watch as the pavement below you melts away, morphing into the River Styx. Make sure you give Charon two pennies before you skitch off his boat into the underworld. Just be careful to remember that, if you’re skating in the bike lane, that isn’t actually a Kraken behind you. It’s a bike that thinks it’s a motorcycle. You know, from before.
Jog to OFF! and the Prometheus Soundtrack.
Before you start thinking “All right! Now it’s time to take that new OFF! album for a spin,” cool your jets. Also hold your horses. Just stop. Well, stretch first. We’re going to be doing a full-blown cardio thing here. I vaguely remember somebody once telling me that, to get the most from your run, it’s good to sprint for a while, and then walk for a while. It all has to do with heart rates and hemoglobin or something. So first, you’re going to run your ass off while listening to OFF! The lyrics have that special combination of getting you super excited while also pissing you... you guessed it, OFF! The songs are also kinda short, so they’re perfect for a good sprint. Once the song ends, slow down, and switch to a track from the exquisite score of the polarising sci-fi blockbuster Prometheus and start contemplating life, creation, and how deep down inside you there is a monster. And then, set OFF! again. Look at you, you’re going so fast! Kick that traffic cone! Now slow down again and think about what it would be like to be a robot with no emotions. See? It’s that easy.
All of it is that easy.
(Author’s Note: I am not very good at doing sports.)